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Dr Anna Donald

HSJ has learned of the sad death of Dr Anna Donald. Dr Donald, who died in Sydney Australia on 1 February, was formerly a co-founder of the healthcare information provider Bazian and an HSJ columnist.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Kennedy Fellow, Caltex Scholar and Menzies Scholar, Dr Donald held degrees in medicine, public policy and history from Oxford, Harvard and Sydney Universities.

After training in medicine, she began work on the development of the emerging science of evidology (evidence based medicine). Having published one of the first articles on the subject while still a senior house officer, Dr Donald was considered one of the brightest minds working in the field.

After working as a doctor and lecturer in epidemiology and public policy at University College London, Dr Donald also worked on the Whitehall study on public health. She was a founding editor of the British Medical Journal’s Clinical Evidence and of the journal Evidence Based Health Policy and wrote a number of books on evidence based healthcare and The Hands-on Guide for Junior Doctors.

She later co-founded Bazian with Dr Vivek Muthu (they started the business in her flat taking turns to plug their laptops into the printer) and was its chief executive for eight years.

In a series of columns for HSJ, Dr Donald argued passionately for evidence based healthcare and the role she believed it could play in eradicating health inequalities.

“From the mid 1990s Anna could see how the cost of healthcare here and around the world was going to accelerate and that one of the keys to addressing that was the relationship between cost, quality and care,” says Dr Muthu.

“There is an overwhelming depth of feeling from so many people about her death. Once met, Anna was never forgotten. She could talk the hind legs off a donkey and had a million ideas a minute.”

Having previously been diagnosed with breast cancer four years earlier, Dr Donald learned the disease had returned in early 2007. The prognosis, as she later wrote in a blog for the BMJ (“From the other side”), was “dismal” and after 18 years in Britain she decided to return to Australia later that year with her husband, to spend time with her family and if possible find a route to recovery.

Dr Donald is survived by her husband Michael, her parents and brother.

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